Did you know the softest dinner rolls you’ve ever eaten can be mixed in a bread machine? This recipe will give you everything you could want in a yeast roll: lightness, flakiness, flavor, and versatility. And now they’ve been updated with the Tangzhong technique. It’s a super simple step that makes a huge difference in texture, softness, and freshness.
No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. Directions for using a stand mixer are included in the Recipe Notes.
Just like 98% of my yeast bread recipes, this one is written for a bread maker.
Don’t worry. The directions will tell you how to mix, knead, and allow the dough to rise in a bread machine. Shape the dough by hand, let rise, and bake in a conventional oven. It’s a hands-off way to mix and knead your dough. For those of you who like to play with your dough, you still get to shape them by hand. It’s easy with my method.
Why use a bread machine?
Have you ever had a piece of bread mix, kneaded, and baked in a bread machine? Did you love it? Maybe if it was still hot.
“Even bad homemade bread is good when it’s hot.”
Most of us don’t care for the strange shape, the tough crust, the hole in the bottom, and oftentimes, the dense and heavy texture of bread actually baked in a bread machine. That’s why I use a bread maker or bread machine to do what it does best–mix and knead bread dough.
A bread machine does a better job of kneading than most of us can do by hand. It’s also a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. After you press the dough button, you can forget about it for the next 40 minutes with one exception. I always take a peek after about 10-15 minutes to make sure the dough consistency is right.
Which bread maker is best?
The one you already have will probably work. When you don’t use it to bake, you don’t have to be near as picky.
Watch for these two things
- The pan should hold at least 3 cups of flour. If it will hold 4 to 4-1/2 cups, that’s even better.
- How well does it incorporate ingredients in the corners of the pan? Although you can use a spatula to push excess flour out of the corners, good models are designed so you don’t have to mess with this detail.
Are you looking to buy a bread machine?
I have owned a Zojurishi bread machine for over 10 years. It’s my favorite. I’ve owned several over the years. (They don’t pay me anything to say this although I get a small commission from Amazon if you buy one through the link.)
It’s an investment. But if your family loves bread and you like making it, it’s a good one.
If somebody gives you one or you find a cheap one at a garage sale, I would probably give it a chance. Plug it in and make sure it runs. Also, check to make sure it still has the dough blade(s) and that the blade is not permanently stuck to the machine.
What is the Tangzhong technique?
This Japanese technique cooks a small percentage of the flour and liquid (water or milk) in a yeast recipe very briefly before combining the resulting thick slurry with the remaining ingredients.”kingarthurflour.com
Borrowing from the Tangzhong method, the recipe includes instructions for making a thick paste mixture with a portion of the milk and flour. This step only adds a couple of minutes to the process.
You will be rewarded with bread that is more tender and stays fresh longer. We’re talking about 2 or 3 days of just-baked-freshness as compared to one day for most homemade bread without preservatives. Having said that, I can’t remember when I’ve ever had these rolls laying around more than two days.
Can I form the dough into different shapes?
Yes. That’s the fun part about making your own bread. Some of my favorite shapes are balls, crescents, and rolls as you see here.
Cutting and slicing is easier than making little balls, especially for beginners. Admittedly, they don’t look quite as perfect. That also means they won’t be mistaken for store-bought rolls at first glance.
The rolls shown here are more fun to eat, too. Who doesn’t love to unroll the layers of his or her dinner roll?
Can I make these rolls ahead of time?
Yes. When the dough cycle is complete, let it rise, and shape into rolls. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to bake, allow the shaped rolls to come to room temperature (2-3 hours). Let them rise until almost double before baking as usual.
Instead of chilling the rolls in the fridge, you can freeze the shaped rolls. I place them on a tray and freeze them until they are hard. Remove from the tray and drop them into a plastic bag.
When you’re ready for hot rolls, take out as many rolls you need. Allow them to thaw (2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours) and bake as instructed.
How To Mix Soft Bread Machine Dinner Rolls
1. Whisk 3 tablespoons of flour into 1/2 cup of milk. Cook in the microwave for 1+ minutes, whisking every 30 seconds until the mixture turns into a thick pudding consistency. Don’t worry if there are a few small lumps. If you accidentally let it overcook into a single mass, it’s best to start over and watch it closer.
2. Add remaining 1/2 cup milk to “pudding” and pour it into your bread machine.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Set machine on the DOUGH cycle and press “Start.”
4. About 10-15 minutes into the cycle, take a peek. The dough should stick to the side and pull away cleanly. See pictures and more details about why this is so important here.
The dough should look similar to this picture when the kneading has finished.
5. After the dough cycle has completed, check that the dough has risen to nearly double the original size. If not, leave the dough in the machine until it does.
6. When ready to roll out, two fingers poked in the dough will leave an indentation that won’t fill in.
How To Shape the Bread Machine Dough
1. Remove dough from pan to a lightly floured surface. Divide in half.
2. Roll each dough ball into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle.
2. Coat with soft butter.
3. Divide into 4 long strips, then make 1 cut through the middle of the strips to make 8 strips.
4. Roll each strip as tightly as possible.
5. Place rolls in a greased 8 or 9-inch pan in a spoke fashion.
6. Cover with a tea towel (or a cheap shower cap.) Allow rolls to rise until double before baking in a conventional oven preheated to 375 degrees F.
1. If rolls are getting too brown…
If rolls are getting too brown before time is up, lay a piece of foil loosely on top. Be sure they are done in the middle before you pull them out of the oven. “Doughy” interiors will cause them to cave in as they cool.
2. Having difficulty knowing when your homemade bread is baked through?
I highly recommend this method if you are an inexperienced baker or even if you are experienced. Since I started testing my bread with a thermometer, raw bread is past history in my kitchen.
3. Dump rolls onto a cooling rack 5 minutes out of the oven
Leaving rolls in the pan too long after baked will cause them to sweat and have soggy bottoms.
More Homemade Yeast Rolls:
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- 1 cup milk, divided
- 3 cups (360 grams) unbleached flour, divided
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons softened butter (goes into the dough) + 2 tablespoons for coating dough in step 2 and 1 tablespoon for glazing baked rolls
- 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast
Making the Dough:
- Measure out 1 cup of milk. In a separate small bowl, measure out 3 cups flour.
- Make flour paste by whisking 3 tablespoons of the flour you just measured out and half of the milk (1/2 cup) together in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cook on High in the microwave for 1 minute, whisking every 30 seconds. Cook an additional 15-30 seconds, if necessary, until mixture is as thick as pudding.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk to the cooked milk/flour mixture and whisk energetically. It's OK if there are still some lumps. They will disappear in the mixing process. Add to the bread machine pan.
- Add egg, heavy cream or egg yolk, sugar, salt, softened butter, remaining flour, and yeast to the pan and select the dough cycle. Press "Start."
- Open the lid and make sure dough is the correct consistency. It should stick to the side, then pull away cleanly. If the dough is too dry it may thump against the side of the pan. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
- When dough cycle finishes, check to see if the dough has risen to double its original size. If so, remove it to a floured surface. If not, allow the dough to remain in the machine until it is double, then remove and proceed with the next step.
Shaping and Baking the Rolls:
- Divide dough in half. Form each half into a neat ball, flouring the surface you are working on as needed to prevent sticking.
- Use a rolling pin to roll one dough ball into a 13 x 9 rectangle. Coat with very soft butter. Divide into 4 equally-sized strips long-ways, then divide each strip in half short-ways. You should have 8 total strips. Roll each strip starting from either of the short ends.
- Place rolls into a greased 8-inch pan. Repeat step two with the other half of the dough. Cover with a tea towel or cheap shower cap and set aside to rise again until almost double. This will probably take an hour, plus or minus, depending on the room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F when you think the rolls are almost ready. Bake rolls on the middle shelf of your oven for 15-17 minutes or until nicely browned.
- Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Turn rolls out onto a cooling rack for another 10-15 minutes. Brush all over with melted butter. (If you leave rolls in the pan too long after baking, they will sweat and become soggy on the bottom.)
Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:
- To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer, add all ingredients to the bowl (except butter) in the same order listed. Turn on low to mix all ingredients until moistened. Using dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Add softened butter and continue to knead with mixer until fully incorporated. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in recipe.
- If making by hand, combine all ingredients(except butter) into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead with your hands until dough becomes smooth and elastic, a process that will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Gradually knead in softened butter until completely incorporated into the dough. Place dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in recipe
- Please note: If you substitute regular yeast for instant or bread machine yeast, you must dissolve it first before adding to the dry ingredients. Stir it into about 1/4 cup of the lukewarm liquid called for in the recipe. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add to other wet ingredients and then add dry ingredients. Proceed as directed to knead and shape rolls.
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Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1/16
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 6gSodium: 194mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g
Updated March 2020.